For the first time in three years, Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash Whiskey will be released to the market—and at a suggested retail price of $5,000 per bottle.
Yes, you’re allowed to gasp. That is indeed some pricey booze!
This will be the last Celebration release blended by longtime Michter’s master distiller, Willie Pratt, who recently became the brand’s master distiller emeritus. (Pam Heilmann is now Michter’s master distiller. Check out my podcast interview with her by clicking here.)
According to a news release, Pratt selected his favorite stocks of Kentucky straight bourbon and Kentucky straight rye from Michter’s inventory to create the blend. The six barrels drawn from for the Celebration ranged in age from over a decade to nearly 33 years old. The 2016 release is 116.8 proof (58.4% alcohol by volume).
Last week I and about 30 others got a sip of it, and it’s phenomenal. Incredibly complex, richly textured and long finishing. I was leading a pairing of country hams and Michter’s whiskeys when the brand’s president, Joe Magliocco, told the group (mostly bartenders from the Marriott hotel chain in Louisville for a bourbon boot camp) that he had a surprise. I even knew the surprise was coming, but it didn’t really dawn on me what a big deal that was until Magliocco shared the retail price. (Yes, cue dropping jaws.)
“When we first released Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash in 2013, it was our goal to show that an extraordinary American whiskey could rival the very finest spirits produced anywhere in the world,” Magliocco said in a news release. “This year, Willie has done just that yet again.”
I’d not pretend to know what the world’s truly finest whiskeys taste like, but it doesn’t take a genius to know this is special.
Too special for my budget, of course, and since there will be only 258 bottles released to domestic and export markets, the secondary market price is sure to rise higher than five grand. At the NoMad Hotel in New York City, shots of the 2014 sell for $1,100 each. Still not in my price range. But at least I can say I’ve tasted it.